Why we need a new type of leadership for a well-nourished world
Food presents a huge opportunity to improve the health of people and planet while also supporting millions of livelihoods. Currently,
Poor quality diets are the world's leading cause
of ill-health; the food system is responsible for 35% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Millions of people – largely women – do essential work to produce the worlds’ food yet remain poor. The human and economic cost is significant.
The estimated impact on the global economy of malnutrition and poor diets has been estimated to be as high as US$3.5 trillion lost per year.
Solutions to these problems exist. What is missing is the bold and courageous leadership needed to put these solutions to work.
Many people notably women, competently and knowledgeably go about their everyday practices producing, providing and preparing food, taking initiative, showing courage, openly communicating and collaborating while navigating conflicts. These are the type of leadership practices needed to effect transformational change. Yet they are not sufficiently acknowledged, valued and enabled in our workplaces and the corridors of power. Rather, they are limited by structural barriers, with too little space to thrive. This is limiting our ability to transform our food systems and diets and advance equality.
There is no time like now to act to transform leadership. For our planet, it is now or never. The crucial importance of addressing malnutrition in all its forms has only been highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic. The attention now being paid to food systems locally, nationally and globally is unprecedented. There is a transformative window of opportunity which we have a responsibility to take.
Effecting real change towards a world where everyone eats well, underpinned by food systems that regenerate the planet and support equitable livelihoods will take transformation in who leads, who can lead and how they lead. It calls for a movement to change the narrative and norms around what “leadership” looks like, what a “leader” looks like, and how leaders act. This applies equally to leadership by people in institutions where decisions are made about food systems and nutrition, and leadership in our workplaces by all of us involved in research, policy and practice.